August 01, 2013: Vol. 12, No. 30 Advancing HVAC&R to Serve Humanity
And Promote a Sustainable World  



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Industry News

Chicago Wants Large Buildings to Disclose Energy Use
CHICAGO—Owners of large buildings in Chicago would be required to publicly disclose how much energy their buildings use and how they measure up against their peers under a proposed city ordinance. Under the proposal, buildings larger than 50,000 ft2 (4600 m2)—which represent less than 1% of the city's building stock but account for 22% of the energy used—would be required to input energy consumption data and information about building size, use and occupancy levels into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool. The software would then compare the energy efficiency of comparable buildings. The goal is to reduce energy use in half of Chicago buildings by 30% by 2020.

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China Issues Moratorium on New Government Buildings
BEIJING—After years of building massive and lavish new government office buildings—including ones inspired by the White House, Versailles and the U.S. Capitol—China is saying enough is enough. Central authorities have issued a five-year moratorium on the construction of new government offices, training centers and hotels. According to the State Council, China’s cabinet, the new policy is important for "building a clean government and… maintaining the image of the Communist Party." The new construction ban is partially a public relations move aimed at quelling public discontent over self-indulgent officials. It is the latest step in a frugality drive that also includes cutbacks on banquets, travel and other perks for bureaucrats.

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Price Overestimated for Energy-Efficient Appliances
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has overestimated the impact that energy-efficiency standards for appliances and other products have on their price tags, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). When appliance standards are developed, DOE estimates net savings for consumers by taking into account utility bill savings and cost impacts, primarily price increases due to steps to make appliances more efficient. DOE only sets standards that it determines are cost-effective for consumers. The report found that in each of the nine appliance standards issued from 1998–2010, DOE estimated an average increase in manufacturer's selling price of $148. On average, the actual change in price was a decrease in manufacturer's selling price of $12.

Click here to read the report.

Office Vacancies Declining in U.S. Cities
LOS ANGELES—Office vacancy rates declined in most major U.S. markets during the second quarter of 2013, according to data from commercial real estate investment firm CBRE Group. Ten of the 13 largest markets showed declines in office vacancy, led by Boston and Houston. Washington, D.C., was the only major market to register an increase in vacancy. Open spaces available for tenant build-out continued to decrease in major U.S. markets as well, according to CBRE. “Stronger consumer confidence and a resurgent housing market are helping to strengthen industrial markets, but the sector still faces headwinds from a slowdown in economic activity outside the U.S.,” said  Brook Scott, CBRE’s Interim Head of Research, Americas.

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The High Price of Educating Engineers
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Faced with reduced state funding, many public universities are now charging more for degrees that cost more to provide—including engineering. A study of undergraduate programs found such differential pricing at 57% of public research universities, and others have considered adopting it. However, this comes at a time of a shortage of U.S. engineers. This is leading some to ask "does charging more for a degree in engineering than for one in philosophy turn away potential engineers?" Kevin Stange, an economist at the University of Michigan, studied more than 140 schools and found that differential pricing for engineering resulted, within three years, in a 7.5% drop in the share of degrees awarded in engineering. Dr. Stange also found that the effect of price on demand was more pronounced among women and minorities, two groups underrepresented in the field.

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Modular Construction Stacking Up in NYC
NEW YORK—Architects in New York are turning to prefabricated structures as a cheap and quick way to build buildings. Earlier this month, a seven-story, 28-unit apartment building in Upper Manhattan known as the Stack topped out. The modular building took only four weeks to complete. The developers say the Stack is New York City’s tallest residential structure relying on off-site construction—that is, until a planned 32-story apartment building in Brooklyn is completed. The Stack's architect and developer estimate that a similar but conventionally constructed building would have cost 15% more. They say once the public perceives this type of building not as "boxes" or "Lego," modular construction will take off.

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In other news...

Forced-Air Systems in ORs May Increase Risk of Airborne Contaminants
Harvard Testing 'Circulatory System' That Channels Fluid Through Windows for Cooling
Newly Completed Brazilian World Cup Stadium Seeking LEED Platinum
DOE Invests $10 Million in Small Building Energy Projects
Tecumseh Expands Compressor Operations in Mississippi
AIA Index of Construction Activity Continues Upward Trend


ASHRAE Names New Distinguished Lecturers
ASHRAE has named eight new Distinguished Lecturers for 2013–14. The Distinguished Lecturer program provides Society chapters and other organizations with noted authorities who speak on relevant topics that impact the built environment industry. More than 1,600 lectures have been given since the program began in 1996. The total 77 lecturers for the 2013–14 Society year represent 13 countries, including Argentina, Canada, China (Hong Kong), Denmark, Egypt, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States. The lecturers are available to present on 345 topics and speak a combined 10 languages.

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Feature of the Week

Energy Audits, Improvements in Small Office Buildings
By Ian M. Shapiro, P.E., Member ASHRAE
According to the author, more than 90% of office buildings are small, representing 34% of all office floor space. Small office buildings have a number of issues that require different treatment than larger structures. Large commercial office buildings tend to be homogeneous in size and shape, but small offices come in a variety; small office buildings tend to be envelope-dominated; and small office buildings typically do not have energy management systems. This article provides guidance on overcoming these and other issues when conducting energy audits for this important segment of the buildings industry.

This article originally was published in October 2012. Click here to download the article. It will be available here through Aug. 15.

After Aug. 15, access to the article from this eNewsletter will no longer be available. It will remain available for free download by members here and for purchase by nonmembers in the online store.

Product News

Commercial Kitchen Ventilation Systems From Greenheck
SCHOFIELD, Wis.—Greenheck’s Vari-Flow integrated kitchen ventilation systems allow foodservice managers and building owners to reduce energy costs by precisely modulating exhaust and supply airflows to match cooking operation demands. Temperature sensors located in the hoods’ capture area are directly exposed to changes in cooking activity, resulting in faster response to cooking load changes. This feature works along with the systems' 50% fan-speed turndown and high-efficiency Vari-Green motors to increase energy savings.

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Mini-Split Systems From Fujitsu General America
FAIRFIELD, N.J.—Fujitsu General America introduces Single-Zone compact cassettes and slim duct systems. The ceiling cassette unit fits into the space of a standard ceiling tile. In addition to a larger heat exchanger, the ceiling cassette units feature a two-stage turbo fan, to provide even air distribution and two separate airflow streams. The compact duct unit features a built-in drain pump.

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Solar Cooling System With Absorption Chiller From Johnson Controls
MILWAUKEE—Johnson Controls and solar power company Cogenra have partnered to introduce a solar cooling solution that features a solar-collector system. The solution features the YORK absorption chiller and features PV waste-heat recovery technology that converts 75% of the sun’s rays into energy, compared to 15% efficiency in a traditional PV system.

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